Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in ~4 Percent of U.K. Troops

Posttraumatic stress disorder, alcohol abuse tied to mTBI in troops back from Iraq/Afghanistan

MONDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) has a prevalence of 4.4 percent in U.K. troops returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, and 9.5 percent in those with a combat role, according to a study published in the January/February issue of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.

Roberto J. Rona, Ph.D., of King's College London, and colleagues conducted a study to assess the prevalence of mTBI in 4,620 U.K. military personnel who had been deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq and had completed a questionnaire between 2007 and 2009. Risk factors for mTBI were investigated and any association between mTBI and postconcussion symptoms (PCS) were examined.

The researchers found that the prevalence of mTBI was 4.4 percent, overall, and 9.5 percent in those soldiers who had a combat role. There was an association between mTBI and current symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 5.2), alcohol misuse (aOR, 2.3), and multiple physical symptoms (aOR, 2.6). After adjustment, only three of nine PCS remained significantly associated with mTBI. Predeployment-reported psychological distress and alcohol misuse were associated with subsequent mTBI.

"The prevalence of mTBI in U.K. military is lower than that in the U.S. military. Symptoms of current posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol misuse are associated with mTBI. Symptoms of mental disorder predated occurrence of mTBI. The majority [of] PCS were not associated with mTBI," the authors write.

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